This weekend at the Chicago Comic-Con, Marvel Comics announced that writer Jeff Parker would be assuming control of The Thunderbolts beginning in November. The current storyline, written by Andy Diggle, will come to a close later this fall under the skillful artistic hands of Rick Remender as Diggle begins writing Marvel’s Daredevil monthly title. While details are still sketchy at this point along the lines of a new line-up for the title or if any of the original members of the squad would be returning, Newsarama contacted Parker to discuss his plans for Marvel’s motley band of not-so-good guys going into 2010.
The discussion of the new direction of The Thunderbolts began in earnest with Parker discussing his involvement with the title after Andy Diggle’s run finishes up in October. “I'm a little over-excited, actually,” he remarked. Briefly mentioning the most recent revelation in Thunderbolts #134 - that Black Widow II, Yelena Belova, is in fact Black Widow I, Natasha Romanov - and how there are still several more startling surprises in Diggle’s run before he takes over the book in November; he said, “The end of Andy’s run will leave the ‘Bolts as probably the most unstable, chaotic version of the team yet!”
When asked about the original Thunderbolts returning to the title, Parker was ominous, “Shake the magic eight ball again—it’s telling me it’s too early to say and to try again.” As readers can see, as of issue #134 and from pending solicits, it appears that at least Mach V and the Fixer are reuniting with Songbird to attempt to take down Osborn’s miscreant band of Thunderbolt operatives. When asked about the potential for some of these not-so-nice Thunderbolts to wind up on his roster, Parker said, “I’ve really enjoyed how Andy has developed Ghost in particular; he’s a classic case of a writer squeezing more potential out of a character and making a true wildcard.”
Parker spoke about some of his favorite characters in The Thunderbolts, “Paladin on the current team is well-suited because he’s always been so morally ambiguous. They offer him a steady paycheck—so his mercenary nature puts him at their disposal.” He continued, “If we’re talking about ‘favorite Thunderbolt character of all time’ then I have to be predictable and go with Baron Zemo. I know a lot of readers are into him, and it’s easy to see why. He’s got that kind of complex that positions him as a future Dr. Doom type.”
When asked about a potential confrontation between Baron Zemo and Norman Osborn as the Iron Patriot, Parker feigned mystery, “The Magic Eight-Ball says ‘Outlook hazy’ so I can’t tell you right now.”
The discussion changed directions; with the focus of the conversation leaning more towards the premise of the current incarnation of The Thunderbolts versus the theme of the title at its inception in the mid-nineties under the watchful eye of Kurt Busiek. When asked about returning the title to its roots, Parker was candid, “The Thunderbolts has to constantly evolve—the very name of the comic book suggests something that can change suddenly with impact,” he added, “Besides that, I think that this book has always had this remarkable ability to take an obscure character and turn them into something timely and relevant.”
When asked about the challenge of writing a book with such a diverse cast, Parker was frank, “It can be a challenge—which is why I tend to show character through action. Let’s have Character X (or say, Mr. X) show readers what he’s all about by the way he reacts to a situation in the heat of the moment. Slamming a threat into the team gets you into their voices the fastest.”
Turning to future story prospects, Parker was animated, “We’re going to see team members at each other’s throats,” he added, “and readers will begin to see how they work together with that level of animosity.” He hinted at potential cast members for the new Thunderbolts by saying, “I’ll be bringing in some characters I’m closely associated with who Osborn is tired of seeing still alive.”
As the conversation began to wind down, Parker remained conservative, “As the plan stands at the moment, we are heading down a rollercoaster of volatility. We quickly get done with spending time at ‘The Cube’ and it’s become all-Thunderbolts-in-the-thick-of-things from here on out.” He mused, “Characters you already assume are dark will sink to new levels. It’s going to get pretty harsh!